Robert F. Kennedy traveled to Roseburg, Oregon and spoke in support of stricter gun control laws 47 years before the town became the site of America’s latest gun-related mass murder.
“All this legislation does is keep guns from criminals and the demented and those too young,” Kennedy said during a May 1968 address, according to a contemporary article in The New York Times . “With all the violence and murder and killings we’ve had in the United States, I think you will agree that we must keep firearms from people who have no business with guns or rifles.”
“There’s nothing in it that infringes on any citizen’s right to bear arms,” he said, according to The Oregonian .
Two weeks later, Kennedy was shot and killed.
The speech has renewed relevance after a gunman who owned more than a dozen weapons killed nine people and injured nine others at Oregon’s Umpqua Community College last week.
President Obama plans to visit the small Oregon city on Friday. In many ways, little has changed since then as it regards the gun control arguments.
At the time, Kennedy was met with a crowd of hecklers bearing messages familiar to modern audiences, the Times reported.
“They’ll get them [guns] anyway,” one man in a cowboy hat shouted.
“Nazi Germany started with the registration of guns,” others protested.
Even after Kennedy was shot and killed, fellow politicians resisted passing gun lesislation. Eugene McCarthy, who with Kennedy’s death became the Democratic nominee for president, said he did not support gun control “panic legislation,” according a 1968 article in The Boston Globe .
Gallery: The Kennedy’s lives in New England